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Books (274 items)

  • ... nothing decorates a home like books. There they are, waiting to decorate the mind, too!

  • I have a strong opinion that a genuine love of books is one of the greatest blessings of life for man and woman ...

    • Sara Coleridge,
    • 1840, in Ada M. Ingpen, ed., Women As Letter-Writers ()
  • I want books written out of a brain and heart and soul crowded and vital with Life, spelled with a big L. I want poetry bursting with passion. I don't care a hang for the 'verbal felicities.' They'll do for the fringe, but I want the garment to warm me first.

  • A good book is never exhausted; we are never exhausted by a good book.

    • Natalie Clifford Barney,
    • "Scatterings" (1910), in Anna Livia, ed., A Perilous Advantage: The Best of Natalie Clifford Barney ()
  • Books should be cherished, like children, books are for the next generation, like children, like history.

  • Having been unpopular in high school is not just cause for book publication.

  • I have sometimes dreamt, at least, that when the Day of Judgment dawns and the great conquerors and lawyers and statesmen come to receive their rewards — their crowns, their laurels, their names carved indelibly upon imperishable marble — the Almighty will turn to Peter and will say, not without a certain envy when He sees us coming with our books under our arms, 'Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them here. They have loved reading.'

    • Virginia Woolf,
    • "How Should One Read a Book?" The Common Reader, 2nd series ()
  • Second-hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the libarry lack. Besides, in this random miscellaneous company we may rub against some complete stranger who will, with luck, turn into the best friend we have in the world.

  • To stand in a great bookshop crammed with books so new that their pages almost stick together, and the gilt on their backs is still fresh, has an excitement no less delightful than the old excitement of the second-hand bookstall.

  • No story is the same to us after a lapse of time; or rather, we who read it are no longer the same interpreters.

  • From your parents you learn love and laughter and how to put one foot before the other. But when books are opened you discover that you have wings.

    • Helen Hayes,
    • with Sandford Dody, On Reflection, An Autobiography ()
  • We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel ... is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become.

    • Ursula K. Le Guin,
    • "Prophets and Mirrors: Science Fiction As a Way of Seeing," Living Light ()
  • The book itself is a curious artifact, not showy in its technology but complex and extremely efficient: a really neat little device, compact, often very pleasant to look at and handle, that can last decades, even centuries. It doesn't have to be plugged in, activated, or performed by a machine; all it needs is light, a human eye, and a human mind. It is not one of a kind, and it is not ephemeral. It lasts. It is reliable. If a book told you something when you were fifteen, it will tell it to you again when you're fifty, though you may understand it so differently that it seems you're reading a whole new book.

    • Ursula K. Le Guin,
    • "Staying Awake: Notes on the Alleged Decline of Reading," Harper's ()
  • If anyone is really determined to lend you a book, you never can get out of it!

  • ... it was clear that the books owned the shop rather than the other way about. Everywhere they had run wild and taken possession of their habitat, breeding and multiplying and clearly lacking any strong hand to keep them down.

  • Almost all of my many passionate interests, and my many changes of mind, came through books. Books prompted the many vows I made to myself.

    • Annie Dillard,
    • in Willian Zinsser, ed., Inventing the Truth ()
  • Private life, book life, took place where words met imagination without passing through the world.

  • What I sought in books was imagination. It was depth, depth of thought and feeling; some sort of extreme of subject matter; some nearness to death; some call to courage. I myself was getting wild; I wanted wildness, originality, genius, rapture, hope. ... What I sought in books was a world whose surfaces, whose people and events and days lived, actually matched the exaltation of the interior life. There you could live.

  • Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier ...

  • The difference between having a good book to read and not having a good book to read is just about the difference between darkness and light.

  • We raked books off the shelves by the dozen and hauled them along on picnics, to haylofts, up oak trees, to bath and to bed. The one terrifying possibility was to find oneself without a book.

  • The clearing-house of the brain, the wings of the spirit, books lift us away from the petty, crowded day's smallness and entanglement.

  • The lover of books is a miner, searching for gold all his life long. He finds his nuggets, his heart leaps in his breast; he cannot believe in his good fortune. Traversing a slow page, to come upon a lode of the pure shining metal is to exult inwardly for greedy hours. It belongs to no one else; it is not interchangeable.

  • ... if, at the end of the saddest, the most disappointing and hurtful day, each one of us may come to a quiet room somewhere, and that room his own, if there is a light burning above white pillows, and a pile of books waiting under the light, then indeed we may still praise Allah, that He has not terminated all the Delights.

  • If there were but one place in the world where we could find them [books], we must all be pilgrims. If one man possessed them all, we must all be suitors.

  • The trouble with education is that we always read everything when we're too young to know what it means. And the trouble with life is that we're always too busy to re-read it later.

  • I honestly believe there is absolutely nothing wrong about going to bed with a good book ... or a friend who's read one.

  • The first book that a child reads has a colossal impact.

  • You say you 'like human beings better than books.' I like some human beings better than books, but not many. Books have one very great advantage over people; you can put them aside whenever you don't care to be with them any longer. Moreover, I can make up a contemptuous mouth and say, 'Pshaw! all bosh!' when a book says what I don't like, but it won't do to treat people with so much freedom.

  • Books form in us habits of thought which shall live forever with us.

  • This is what happens when the discourse of publishing, defined and driven by spoken and written language, is talked about in exactly the same vocabulary and syntax as any widgetmaking industry. Books are reformulated as 'product' — like screwdrivers or flea-bombs or soap — and the majority of writers are perceived as typists with bad attitudes.

  • Don't read trash. Mental inebriety too long continued is beyond human aid.

  • Books, books, BOOKS kept / Insanely breeding. / De Quincey wept, / And went on reading.

  • I had a perfect confidence, still unshaken, in books. If you read enough you would reach the point of no return. You would cross over and arrive on the safe side. There you would drink the strong waters and become addicted, perhaps demented — but a Reader.

  • ... books are events, not books to us, new conditions of existence, new selves suddenly revealed through the experience of other more vivid personalities than our own. The actual experience of other lives is not for us, but this link of simple reality of feeling is one all independent of events; it is like the miracle of the loaves and fishes repeated and multiplied — one man comes with his fishes and lo! the multitude is filled.

  • Books ... are like lobster shells, we surround ourselves with 'em, then we grow out of 'em and leave 'em behind, as evidence of our earlier stages of development.

  • He felt about books as doctors feel about medicines, or managers about plays — cynical, but hopeful.

  • Only one hour in the normal day is more pleasurable than the hour spent in bed with a book before going to sleep, and that is the hour spent in bed with a book after being called in the morning.

    • Rose Macaulay,
    • "Problems of a Reader's Life," A Casual Commentary ()
  • Book tours are like boot camp but with little sleep and less food.

  • Books showed me there were possibilities in life, that there were actually people like me living in a world I could not only aspire to but attain. Reading gave me hope. For me, it was the open door.

    • Oprah Winfrey,
    • in Nellie Bly, Oprah: Up Close and Down Home ()
  • Books were my path to personal freedom. I learned to read at age 3 and soon discovered there was a whole world to conquer that went beyond our farm in Mississippi.

    • Oprah Winfrey,
    • in Nellie Bly, Oprah: Up Close and Down Home ()
  • Of all the nations in the Western world, the United States, with the most money and the most time, has the fewest readers of books per capita. This is an incalculable loss. This, too, is one of the few civilized nations in the world which is unable to support a single magazine devoted solely to books.

  • The buying of a self-help book is the most desperate of all human acts. It means you've lost your mind completely: You've entrusted your mental health to a self-aggrandizing twit with a psychology degree and a yen for a yacht.

  • I learned to read from Mrs. Augusta Baker, the children's librarian. ... If that was the only good deed that lady ever did in her life, may she rest in peace. Because that deed saved my life, if not sooner, then later, when sometimes the only thing I had to hold on to was knowing I could read.

  • I did not write it. God wrote it. I merely did His dictation.

    • Harriet Beecher Stowe,
    • on Uncle Tom's Cabin, in Raymond Weaver, introduction to 1938 edition of Uncle Tom's Cabin ()
  • I believe I belong to the last literary generation, the last generation, that is, for whom books are a religion.

  • A dreary censorship, and self-censorship, has been imposed on books by the centralization of the book industry.

  • All authors know that any book is a casting of runes, a reading of cards, a map of the palm and heart. We make up the ocean — then fall in. But we also write the life raft.

  • Before things are written down they don't exist in quite the same way. The act of fixing them in words gives them a kind of currency that can be traded.

  • What I require of a book is that it kidnap me into its world. Its world must make the so-called real world seem flimsy. Its world must trigger the nostalgia to return. When I close the book, I should feel bereft.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Writing for Love," What Do Women Want? ()
  • Home is where your books are.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Coming Home to Connecticut," What Do Women Want? ()
  • It is the nature of those books we call classics to wait patiently on the shelf for us to grow into them.

  • A book is a box brimming with incendiary material. The reader strikes the match.

  • Books are no substitute for living, but they can add immeasurably to its richness.

  • Secure from observation/ A Bookworm made his home / And pursued his occupation / In a dry and dusty tome, / Made by some wise old sages / That lesser minds might learn. / The Bookworm turned the pages / (For even a worm will turn). / He said, 'What prosy leaders! And, judging by its look, / This book has bored its readers, / Now I will bore the book.'

  • Where there's a will there's a detective story.

    • Carolyn Wells,
    • "The Turnings of a Bookworm," Folly for the Wise ()
  • The books we think we ought to read are poky, dull and dry; / The books that we should like to read we are ashamed to buy; / The books that people talk about we never can recall; / And the books that people give us, oh, they're the worst of all.

  • They borrow books they will not buy, / They have no ethics or religions; / I wish some kind Burbankian guy / Would cross my books with homing pigeons.

    • Carolyn Wells,
    • "Book Borrowers" (1900), in Reader's Digest ()
  • No ornament of a house can compare with books; they are constant company in a room, even when you are not reading them.

  • ... I have the reader's inability to pass a bookshop without going in and spending as much as I can afford.

  • Nothing about my life seemed so bad when I had a book to read.

    • Amber L. Hollibaugh,
    • "The Gap She Fostered," in Christian McEwen and Sue O'Sullivan, eds., Out the Other Side ()
  • I'm a reader, not a listener. But apart from that, I do believe that what is written to be read tends to be better than what is written to be spoken.

  • The sincerity of feeling that is possible between a writer and a reader is one of the finest things I know.

    • Willa Cather,
    • interview (1931), in L. Brent Bohlke, ed., Willa Cather in Person ()
  • ... if a book is well written, I always find it too short.

    • Jane Austen,
    • in Frances Beer, ed., The Juvenilia of Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë ()
  • There are more truths in a good book than its author meant to put in it.

  • A book cannot easily be too bad for the general public, but may easily be too good.

  • ... I don't think four thousand copies such a wretched sale. You should try to take a longer view of it. If you had sold four thousand female tortoiseshell kittens, for instance, you would think you had done marvels.

  • Books only spoil the originality of genius. Very well for those who can't think for themselves — But when one has made up one's opinions, there is no use in reading.

  • Our pleasures in literature do not, I think, decline with age; last 1st of January was my eighty-second birthday, and I think that I had as much enjoyment from books as I ever had in my life.

    • Maria Edgeworth,
    • 1849, in Augustus J.C. Hare, ed., The Life and Letters of Maria Edgeworth, vol. 2 ()
  • Books that children read but once are of scant service to them; those that have really helped to warm our imaginations and to train our faculties are the few old friends we know so well that they have become a portion of our thinking selves.

  • There is a secret and wholesome conviction in the heart of every man or woman who has written a book that it should be no easy matter for an intelligent reader to lay down that book unfinished. There is a pardonable impression among reviewers that half an hour in its company is sufficient.

  • The great dividing line between books that are made to be read and books that are made to be bought is not the purely modern thing it seems. We can trace it, if we try, back to the first printing-presses ...

  • The perfectly natural thing to do with an unreadable book is to give it away; and the publication, for more than a quarter of a century, of volumes which fulfilled this one purpose and no other is a pleasant proof, if proof were needed, of the business principles which underlay the enlightened activity of publishers.

  • Did you ever stop to think that a writer will spend three years, or many more, on a book that the average reader will skim through in a few hours?

  • ... a preface is a species of literary luxury, where an author, like a lover, is privileged to be egotistical ...

  • I'm not sure at all that literature should be studied on the university level. ... Why should people study books? Isn't it rather silly to study Pride and Prejudice. Either you get it or you don't.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • in Elizabeth Janeway, ed., The Writer's World ()
  • Books are ... funny little portable pieces of thought.

  • Like all former thinkers, I'm writing a book.

  • You must know I have sworn and agreed / My books from my room not to lend, / But you may sit by my fire and read.

  • This is a circular book. It does not begin at the beginning and go on to the end; it is all going on at the same time, sticking out like the spokes of a wheel from the hub, which is me. So it does not matter which chapter is read first or last.

  • Bringing out our little books was hard work. The great puzzle lay in the difficulty of getting answers of any kind from the publishers to whom we applied.

    • Charlotte Brontë,
    • 1845, in Elizabeth Gaskell, The Life of Charlotte Brontë, vol. 1 ()
  • My relatives, Ellis and Acton Bell, and myself, heedless of the repeated warnings of various respectable publishers, have committed the rash act of printing a volume of poems. The consequences predicted have, of course, overtaken us: our book is found to be a drug; no man needs it or heeds it. In the space of a year our publisher has disposed but of two copies, and by what painful efforts he succeeded in getting rid of these two, himself only knows. Before transferring the edition to the trunkmakers, we have decided on distributing as presents a few copies of what we cannot sell; and we beg to offer you one in acknowledgement of the pleasure and profit we have often and long derived from your works. — I am, sir, yours very respectfully, Currer Bell.

    • Charlotte Brontë,
    • in Muriel Spark, ed., The Letters of The Brontës: A Selection ()
  • Anthologies are mischievous things. Some years ago there was a rage for chemically predigested food, which was only suppressed when doctors pointed out that since human beings had been given teeth and digestive organs they had to be used or they degenerated very rapidly. Anthologies are predigested food for the brain.


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  • In trying to understand the appeal of best-sellers, it is well to remember that whistles can be made sounding certain notes which are clearly audible to dogs and other of the lower animals, though man is incapable of hearing them.

    • ,
    • "The Tosh Horse," The Strange Necessity ()
  • Most works of art, like most wines, ought to be consumed in the district of their fabrication.

    • Rebecca West,
    • "'Journey's End' Again," Ending in Earnest ()
  • Siegried Sassoon's book is a true work of art. It is an analysis of experience and a synthesis of the findings into a unity that excites the reader.

    • Rebecca West,
    • "'Journey's End' Again," Ending in Earnest ()
  • Nobody ever wrote a good book simply by collecting a number of accurate facts and valid ideas.

  • [On books waiting to be read:] I have not had time yet. But I look at them as a child looks at a cake, — with glittering eyes and watering mouth, imagining the pleasure that awaits him!

  • ... the little vices bring relaxation; and a bit of trash now and then is good for the severest reader. It provides that necessary roughage in the literary diet.

    • Phyllis McGinley,
    • "New Year and No Resolutions," Merry Christmas, Happy New Year ()
  • There are books that one needs maturity to enjoy just as there are books an adult can come on too late to savor.

    • Phyllis McGinley,
    • "The Consolations of Illiteracy," The Province of the Heart ()
  • Borrow my umbrellas, my clothes, my money, and I will likely not think of them again. But borrow my books and I will be on your track like a bloodhound until they are returned.

  • In fact, isn't it a joy — there is hardly a greater one — to find a new book, a living book, and to know that it will remain with you while life lasts?

    • Katherine Mansfield,
    • 1922, in J. Middleton Murry, ed., The Letters of Katherine Mansfield, vol. 2 ()
  • ... the pleasure of all reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares the same books.

    • Katherine Mansfield,
    • 1922, in J. Middleton Murry, ed., The Letters of Katherine Mansfield, vol. 2 ()
  • ... without fiction, either life would be insufficient or the winds from the north would blow too cold.

  • The child lives in the book; but just as much the book lives in the child.

  • Though not all reading children grow up to be writers, I take it that most creative writers must in their day have been reading children.

  • The return to a favorite novel is generally tied up with changes in oneself that must be counted as improvements, but have the feel of losses. It is like going back to a favorite house, country, person; nothing is where it belongs, including one's heart.

    • Mary McCarthy,
    • "On Re-Reading a Favorite Book," A Bolt From the Blue and Other Essays ()
  • We do not so much want books for good people, as books which will make bad ones better.

    • Hannah More,
    • letter (1804), in William Roberts, Memories of the Life of Mrs Hannah More ()
  • She reads anything and everything and even now hates to be disturbed and above all however often she has read a book and however foolish the book may be no one must make fun of it or tell her how it goes on. It is still as it always was real to her.

  • Preface. Excuse me. None this time. There have already been too many big porticos before little buildings.

  • In Africa, when you pick up a book worth reading, out of the deadly consignments which good ships are always being made to carry out all the way from Europe, you read it as an author would like his book to be read, praying to God that he may have it in him to go on as beautifully as he has begun. Your mind runs, transported, upon a fresh deep green track.

  • I hoard books. They are people who do not leave.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • 1962, in Linda Gray Sexton and Lois Ames, eds., Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters ()
  • We are made whole / By books, as by great spaces and the stars.

  • We've found that fairyland is everywhere — / You open up a book and, why, you're there!

  • Publication is the auction / Of the Mind of Man.

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • in Mabel Loomis Todd, ed., The Letters of Emily Dickinson 1845-1886 ()
  • There is no Frigate like a Book / To take us Lands away ...

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • c. 1873, in Thomas H. Johnson, ed., The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson ()
  • I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.

  • My home was in a pleasant place outside of Philadelphia. But I really lived, truly lived, somewhere else. I lived within the covers of books.

  • While we pay lip service to the virtues of reading, there is still in our culture something that suspects those who read too much (whatever 'too much' means) as lazy, aimless dreamers, as people who need to grow up and come outside where the real life is, as people who think themselves superior in their separateness. There is something in the American character — a certain hale and heartiness — that is suspicious of reading as anything more than a tool for advancement. America is also a nation that prizes sociability and community, that believes that alone leads to loner, loner to loser. Any sort of turning away from human contact is suspect.

  • Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.

  • ... a work that intends to be art must first be entertaining.

  • The gift of creative reading, like all natural gifts, must be nourished or it will atrophy. And you nourish it, in much the same way you nourish the gift of writing — you read, think, talk, look, listen, hate, fear, love, weep — and bring all of your life like a sieve to what you read. That which is not worthy of your gift will quickly pass through, but the gold remains.

  • Once a book is published, it no longer belongs to me. My creative task is done. The work now belongs to the creative mind of my readers. I had my turn to make of it what I would, now it is their turn.

  • A great novel is a kind of conversion experience. We come away from it changed.

  • The wonderful thing about books is that they allow us to enter imaginatively into someone else's life. And when we do that, we learn to sympathize with other people. But the real surprise is that we also learn truths about ourselves, about our own lives, that somehow we hadn't been able to see before.

  • To be a bestseller is not necessarily a measure of quality, but it is a measure of communication.

  • Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. They are engines of change, windows on the world, lighthouses erected in a sea of time.

  • Without books the development of civilization would have been impossible. They are the engines of change, windows on the world, 'lighthouses' as the poet said 'erected in the sea of time.' They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind. Books are humanity in print.

  • ... librarianship ... is ... a profession that is informed, illuminated, radiated, by a fierce and beautiful love of books — a love so overwhelming that it engulfs community after community and makes the culture of our time distinctive, individual, creative, and truly of the spirit.

  • A love of reading encompasses the whole of life: information, knowledge, insight and understanding, pleasure; the power to think, to select, to act, to create — all of these are inherent in a love of reading.

  • Literature is a peculiarly public product of a particularly private endeavor.

    • Valerie Miner,
    • "Competition Among Feminist Writers," Rumors From the Cauldron ()
  • We don't want to read a book. We want to live an experience.

  • During really difficult times in my life when I start questioning why I am struggling with something, I often turn to books to understand myself better.

  • Some books are so familiar, reading them is like being home again.

  • Began the second part of 'Little Women.' ... Girls write to ask who the little women marry, as if that was the only end and aim of a woman's life. I won't marry Jo to Laurie to please any one.

  • She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain.

  • ... books have been my greatest comfort, castle-building a never-failing delight, and scribbling a very profitable amusement.

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • in Eve LaPlante, Marmee and Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother ()
  • ... those who are happy enough to have a taste for reading, need never be at a loss for amusement.

    • Madame de Sévigné,
    • 1684, Letters of Madame de Sévigné to Her Daughter and Her Friends, vol. 6 ()
  • I pity those who have no taste for reading ...

    • Madame de Sévigné,
    • 1689, Letters of Madame de Sévigné to Her Daughter and Her Friends, vol. 8 ()
  • Not to find pleasure in serious reading gives a pastel coloring to the mind.

    • Madame de Sévigné,
    • 1689, in Katharina M. Wilson and Frank J. Warnke, Women Writers of the Seventeenth Century ()
  • ... where I have seen good I shall speak of it with pleasure, and where I have seen the reverse, I shall try to be silent; for a book is meant to give pleasure, and pain that is inflicted in black and white lasts for ever.

  • There are two kinds of reading, reading which is contemplation — even a kind of vision & reading for information. For the first only the best will do, for the rest — then one can let in anything one would like to read in the world.

    • Mary Butts,
    • 1921, in Nathalie Blondel, ed., The Journals of Mary Butts ()
  • I was always furious because you couldn't take out more than three books in one day. You would go home with your three books and read them and it would still be only five o'clock. The library didn't shut till half past, but you couldn't change the books till the next day.

    • Fay Weldon,
    • in Nina Winter, Interview With the Muse ()
  • ... books are wonderful things: to sit alone in a room and laugh and cry, because you are reading, and still be safe when you close the book; and having finished it, discover you are changed, yet unchanged!

  • It is easier for the reader to judge, by a thousand times, than for the writer to invent. The writer must summon his Idea out of nowhere, and his characters out of nothing, and catch words as they fly, and nail them to the page. The reader has something to go by and somewhere to start from, given to him freely and with great generosity by the writer. And still the reader feels free to find fault.

  • ... the process of a book's coming to life is not fully complete until your imagination meets mine on the page. The words evoke pictures and something altogether new is created, something different from the limits of my own skills and imagination. Something that is a marriage between your heart, mind, and body — and mine.

  • I learned from the age of two or three that any room in our house, at any time of day, was there to read in, or to be read to. My mother read to me. She'd read to me in the big bedroom in the mornings, when we were in her rocker together, which ticked in rhythm as we rocked, as though we had a cricket accompanying the story. She'd read to me in the dining room on winter afternoons in front of the coal fire, with our cuckoo clock ending the story with 'Cuckoo,' and at night when I'd got in my own bed. I must have given her no peace. Sometimes she read to me in the kitchen while she sat churning, and the churning sobbed along with any story.

  • It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass. Yet regardless of where they came from, I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them — with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on, with their smell and their weight and with their possession in my arms, captured and carried off to myself.

  • Books are a habit-forming drug.

  • Americans, MacIver thought. They turned out volumes by the dozens like doughnuts, big and soft and empty at the core.

    • Helen Hudson,
    • "An Appointment With Armstrong," The Listener ()
  • When I was about eight, I decided that the most wonderful thing, next to a human being, was a book.

  • ... my life has been saved over and over again by picking up a book in which someone captured the whole experience of being despised and not dying.

    • Dorothy Allison,
    • American Booksellers Association convention speech (1995), in The Hungry Mind Review ()
  • If we are told, for example, that 'The Raj Quartet' is a four-volume epic about the end of British rule in India, we're apt to smile and say, 'How interesting.' Meaning we feel a certain duty to read such a tome, but never will unless we have both legs in traction.

  • When we got around to books, I was finally set, as our minister would say, on solid ground. I gorged on books. I sneaked them at night. I rubbed their spines and sniffed in the musty smell of them in the library.

  • Self-help books for women are part of a multibillion-dollar industry, sensitively attuned to our insecurities and our purses.

  • For, so long as there are interesting books to read, it seems to me that neither I nor anyone else, for that matter, need be unhappy.

  • I devoured books like a person taking vitamins, afraid that otherwise I would remain this gelatinous narcissist, with no possibility of ever becoming thoughtful, of ever being taken seriously.

  • ... I only really love a book when I have read it at least four times ...

  • I like a new clean book, freshly bound, particularly when I am the first to read it. I like dirty books — where other people have been before me, slipping fried eggs between the pages as markers — rather less.

  • The world of books: romantic, idle, shiftless world so beautiful, so cheap compared with living.

  • Most of us write because we love to read. You have to love words and what they do to you to want to spend so much time wrestling them. Books make love to us; we want to make love back. Books speak the truths we suspect. They take us into a realm that only art can open, and send us back to our world refreshed. They are mentors; they initiate us.

  • I'm never ashamed to read a book twice or as many times as I want. We never expect to drink a glass of water just once in our lives. A book can be that essential, too.

  • Even an ice cream parlor — a definite advantage — does not alleviate the sorrow I feel for a town lacking a bookstore.

  • I always loved books. I don't remember learning to read, it was just something I always did. I was hungry for knowledge, I guess, and information; I was a curious kid. I still am.

  • Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book.

  • ... a bookstore is one of the few places where all the cantankerous, conflicting, alluring voices of the world co-exist in peace and order and the avid reader is as free as a person can possibly be, because she is free to choose among them.

    • Jane Smiley,
    • in Gibbs B. Smith, The Art of the Bookstore ()
  • ... children's reading, unlike that of adults, is conditioned by what is at hand.

    • Lillian H. Smith,
    • "The Library's Responsibility to the Child," in Emily Miller Danton, ed., The Library of Tomorrow ()
  • [On being a judge for the 1986 Booker Prize:] I got to the point where I couldn't read a laundry list without considering it for the Booker Prize.

  • Many books in popular psychology are a melange of the author's comments, a dollop of research, and stupefyingly dull transcriptions from interviews.

    • Carol Tavris,
    • "A Remedy But Not a Cure," The New York Times ()
  • Fiction structures an experience for the reader to live through. ... That is why people read: to have experiences.

  • My books were doors that gave me entrance into another world. Often I think that I did not grow up in the ghetto but in the books I read as a child in the ghetto.

  • Of all the things that make for happiness, the love of books comes first. No matter how the world may have used us, sure solace lies there.

  • A book, unlike any other friend, will wait, not only upon the hour but upon the mood.

  • When a book leaves your hands, it belongs to God. He may use it to save a few souls, or to try a few others, but I think that for the writer to worry is to take over God's business.

  • Do Not / pass / thru the pages / of this / book / and hear / nothin' / on the way.

  • ... books were not composed / By women, nor did they record the things / That we may read against them and their ways. / Yet men write on, quite to their heart's content, / The ones who plead their case without debate. / They give no quarter, take the winner's part / Themselves, for readily do quarrelers / Attack all those who don't defend themselves. / If women, though, had written all those books, / I know that they would read quite differently, / For well do women know the blame is wrong. / The parts are not apportioned equally, / Because the strongest take the largest cut / And he who slices it can keep the best.

    • Christine de Pisan,
    • "Letter of the God of Love" (1399), in Thelma S. Fenster and Mary Carpenter Erler, eds., Poems of Cupid, God of Love ()
  • All true histories contain instruction; though, in some, the treasure may be hard to find, and when found, so trivial in quantity, that the dry, shriveled kernel scarcely compensates for the trouble of cracking the nut.

  • [Preface to second edition:] ... I am satisfied that if a book is a good one, it is so whatever the sex of the author may be.

  • How a big majority of book critics and authors have come to believe and to teach that no book is true to life unless it is true to the worst in life, God knows ...

    • Gene Stratton-Porter,
    • in Jeannette Porter Meehan, The Lady of the Limberlost: Life and Letters of Gene Stratton-Porter ()
  • ... the power of a text is not time-bound. The words go on doing their work.

  • Books, for me, are a home. Books don't make a home — they are one, in the sense that just as you do with a door, you open a book, and you go inside.

  • The trouble with a book is that you never know what's in it until it's too late.

  • ... there is no substitute for books in the life of a child.

  • Reading ... changes you. You aren't the same person after you've read a particular book as you were before, and you will read the next book, unless both are Harlequin Romances, in a slightly different way.

    • Margaret Atwood,
    • "An End to Audience?" Second Words: Selected Critical Prose ()
  • ... books are brain food. If every American would purchase the equivalent of his weight in books each year, this country would be a different place.

  • Professors of literature collect books the way a ship collects barnacles, without seeming effort. A literary academic can no more pass a bookstore than an alcoholic can pass a bar.

  • We are stimulated to emotional response not by works that confirm our sense of the world, but by works that challenge it.

  • ... I read books. Avidly, ardently! As if my life depended upon it.

  • Carolyn believed that books could change our lives, could save us from ourselves.

    • Rebecca McClanahan,
    • "Book Marks," in Kathleen Norris, ed., The Best American Essays ()
  • I fall into books the way I fall into lust — wholly, hungrily.

    • Rebecca McClanahan,
    • "Book Marks," in Kathleen Norris, ed., The Best American Essays ()
  • ... books are exactly what their authors make them. We have the illusion that stories are in themselves delightful or dull, but it is not so. There are no dull stories, only dull people who write books ...


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  • It is easy enough, once the commercial success of a book is an established fact, to work out a convincing reason for the public's enthusiasm.

    • ,
    • in Eric Maisel, Fearless Creating ()
  • The greatest gift is the passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.

  • Life-transforming ideas have always come to me through books.

  • Vague in plot but clear in style, / Its characters escape me. / Flavor marks it all the while, / And how it's helped to shape me!

  • ... before I could read, almost a baby, I imagined that God, this strange thing or person I heard about, was a book.

  • Give the child good books, then let it alone! Don't plough and harrow its brain, or stretch it on Procrustes-beds of standardization, simplification, and what not!

  • Anyone who picks up a Compton-Burnett finds it hard not to put it down.

  • If I read a book that impresses me, I have to take myself firmly in hand, before I mix with other people; otherwise they would think my mind rather queer.

  • For the true bookworm it is sometimes hard to distinguish between what one has experienced and what one has read. We know that this is odd and even a little demented. But there it is. We are uneasy in a void with no book.

    • Laura Furman,
    • in Laura Furman and Elinore Standard, Bookworms: Great Writers and Readers Celebrate Reading ()
  • ... the book which bores you when you are twenty or thirty will open doors for you when you are forty or fifty — and vice versa.

  • I can imagine living without food. I cannot imagine living without books.

  • Children are not born knowing the many opportunities that are theirs for the taking. Someone who does know must tell them.

  • If we give our children books in childhood that will help to free their minds, hearts and imaginations, and in adolescence books that give not only vicarious experience, but new vistas; if we see that they are equipped with the knowledge that will give them access to the feast, then we will have done our part to make them the kind of people who, no matter what crises they face, what minor prisons they may know, will emerge 'much less sad, perhaps a little wiser and full of hope.'

  • ... she was not reading. Her great dead friends did not seem worth reading that night. They always said the same things now — over and over again they said the same things, and nothing was to be got out of them any more for ever. No doubt they were greater than any one was now, but they had this immense disadvantage, that they were dead.

  • Since the journey is a metaphor — the most ambiguous and seductive of metaphors, we tell ourselves — it can also be born of immobility. There is no need to drag our bodies around so much, all dressed up. It's hot, there are flies, diseases. It is enough to close our eyes, seated on a chair in the shade, to float on the waves of imagination. Isn't that what books are there for?

  • A book is a tool of life. A thinker may even take parts of it out if he needs them and carry them about in his pocket.

  • Speak low in bookshops and love.

  • ... in reading ... stories, you can be many different people in many different places, doing things you would never have a chance to do in ordinary life. It's amazing that those twenty-six little marks of the alphabet can arrange themselves on the pages of a book and accomplish all that. Readers are lucky — they will never be bored or lonely.

  • It was the best sort of miracle, the kind that happens when the heat outside is blistering or when a storm is brewing; when everything in your life is out of your control. It happens when you are eight, or ten, or twelve, at the moment when you discover that when you walk into the library you have complete freedom. You can leave your world behind and enter into any book you select. Here, where there is quiet, there are, at last, choices to be made. No one will tell you what you can and cannot imagine. I think now that I would not have survived my childhood if not for those walks to the library. Books were the true miracle in my life, my salavation and my ticket out — a blessing I'm grateful for every single day. Nothing is as intimate, as healing, as private as a book.

    • Alice Hoffman,
    • "Nothing Is As Healing As a Book," in Tonya Bolden, 33 Things Every Girl Should Know ()
  • I think I was born with the impression that what happened in books was much more reasonable, and interesting, and real, in some ways, than what happened in life.

    • Anne Tyler,
    • in Janet Sternburg, ed., The Writer on Her Work, vol. 1 ()
  • The Bookshop has a thousand books, / All colors, hues, and tinges, / And every cover is a door / That turns on magic hinges.

  • Nothing pleases us more than to peruse the shelves of books read in our youth and recognize aspects of our identities lodged there.

  • ... the book was the earliest technology connecting the living and the dead, a way of tapping into the thoughts or experiences of those who are no longer physically present.

  • Books are the solitudes in which we meet.

  • I can think of no habit, kept up through the years, that binds a married couple more than that of reading good books together. Domestic problems and personal problems are for the time forgotten, and an intellectual intimacy is established that can be maintained in few other ways.

  • a. Critics: people who make monuments out of books. b. Biographers: people who make books out of monuments. c. Poets: people who raze monuments. d. Publishers: people who sell rubble. e. Readers: people who buy it.

  • I don't think that children, if left to themselves, feel that there is an author behind a book, a somebody who wrote it. Grown-ups have fostered this quotient of identity, particularly teachers. Write a letter to your favorite author and so forth. When I was a child I never realized that there were authors behind books. Books were there as living things, with identities of their own.

  • If people don't read, that's their choice; a lifelong book habit may itself be some sort of affliction.

  • ... when I walk into an apartment with books on the shelves, books on the bedside tables, books on the floor, and books on the toilet tank, then I know what I would see if I opened the door that says Private — grownups keep out: a children sprawled on the bed, reading.

  • [On reading and books:] While the delivery systems change we're still an industry dedicated to the communication of ideas.

  • Books, to the reading child, are so much more than books — they are dreams and knowledge, they are a future, and a past ...

  • Another cause for the multiplication of flimsy books, is the universality of authorship; and this fashion for writing is, at least, as good a fashion as that of driving coaches and beating the watch. When all sorts and conditions of persons publish, all sorts and conditions of persons must read; and the annual quality of publications is less an exponent of the talent in the market, than of the minimum of wit, sense, and utility, beyond which the public will not buy.

  • ... the frequency of bad books proves only that fools and knaves now employ their leisure in reading, instead of the more dangerous and brutal pastimes which occupied their predecessors.

  • Trusting children and books is a revolutionary act. Books are, after all, dangerous stuff. Leave a child alone with a book and you don't know what might happen.

  • A book collection is a cross between a Rorschach test and This Is Y our Life. It marks your life clearly like rings on a tree.

  • One of the disadvantages of almost universal education was the fact that all kinds of persons acquired a familiarity with one's favourite writers. It gave one a curious feeling; it was like seeing a drunken stranger wrapped in one's dressing gown.

  • There are books that create an exhilaration close to ecstasy. The reader feels like a tall building in darkness to which the owners return and, floor by floor, begin switching on the lights.

  • ... here are the top three global resources getting scarcer in the twenty-first century: ozone layer, rain forest, people eager to read the fiction of others. That's right, folks. For the first time in I believe written history, there are far more fiction writers on earth than fiction readers.

  • All books are either dreams or swords, / You can cut, or you can drug, with words.

    • Amy Lowell,
    • title poem, Sword Blades and Poppy Seed ()
  • ... reading is pure. It has the thrill of skiing and the primal satisfaction of food, but you don't fall down, and you don't get fat. I do know a girl who broke her arm reading, but that was because she tried to ride her bicycle at the same time.

    • Susan Lowell,
    • "Reading Up," in Michael Dorris and Emilie Buchwald, eds., The Most Wonderful Books ()
  • For books are more than books, they are the life, / The very heart and core of ages past. / The reason why men lived, and worked, and died, / The essence and quintessence of their lives.

    • Amy Lowell,
    • "The Boston Athenaeum," in Louis Untermeyer, ed., The Complete Poetical Works of Amy Lowell ()
  • ... in my own childhood, as far back as I could remember, books had shed a glow of delight on everything I did.

  • I love books the way I love nature. ... I can imagine now that a time will come, that it is almost upon us, when no one will love books ... It is no accident, I think, that books and nature (as we know it) may disappear simultaneously from human experience. There is no mind-body split.

    • Andrea Dworkin,
    • "First Love," in Julia Wolf Mazow, ed., The Woman Who Lost Her Names ()
  • No time is ever wasted if you have a book along as a companion.

  • We have a lot of books in our house. They are our primary decorative motif — books in piles and on the coffee table, framed book covers, books sorted into stacks on every available surface, and of course books on shelves along most walls. Besides the visible books, there are books waiting in the wings, the basement books, the garage books, the storage locker books ... They function as furniture, they prop up sagging fixtures and disguised by quilts function as tables ... I can't imagine a home without an overflow of books. The point of books is to have way too many but to always feel you never have enough, or the right one at the right moment, but then sometimes to find you'd longed to fall asleep reading the Aspern Papers, and there it is.

  • [On her and husband Michael Dorris:] We both have title collections. I think a title is like a magnet. It begins to draw these scraps of experience or conversation or memory to it. Eventually, it collects a book.

  • A good title holds magic, some cognitive dissonance, a little grit between the teeth, but above all it is the jumping-off place into wonder.

  • Fitting people with books is about as difficult as fitting them with shoes.

  • I think Hemingway's [book] titles should be awarded first prize in any contest. Each of them is a poem, and their mysterious power over readers contributes to Hemingway's success. His titles have a life of their own, and they have enriched the American vocabulary.

  • I read because I'm too poor to tour the world, too timid to speak to the dead, too dull to call upon the great minds of the day, too muddled in dishwater and orange peels to see the future revealed, and too inquisitive to let one slim lifetime slip away.

  • ... I have only ever read one book in my life, and that is White Fang. It's so frightfully good I've never bothered to read another.

  • It is a generally received opinion that there are too many books in the world already. I cannot, however, subscribe to any Institution that proposes to alter this state of affairs, because I find no consensus of opinion as to which are the superfluous books ...

  • I'm a strange contradiction; I'm new and I'm old, / I'm often in tatters and oft deck'd in gold; / Though I never could read, yet letter'd I'm found; / Though blind, I enlighten; though loose, I am bound — / I'm always in black, and I'm always in white; / I am grave and I'm gay, I am heavy and light. / In form too I differ — I'm thick and I'm thin, / I've no flesh, and no bones, yet I'm cover'd with skin; / I've more points than the compass, more stops than the flute — / I sing without voice, without speaking confute; / I'm English, I'm German, I'm French and I'm Dutch; / Some love me too fondly; some slight me too much; / I often die soon, though sometimes live ages, / And no monarch alive has so many pages.

    • Hannah More,
    • "A Riddle," The Works of Hannah More ()
  • We believe in books. Somehow we want to make childhood better, and we believe that a book given at the right moment can work magic in a child's life.

    • Ann Schlee,
    • in Barbara Harrison et al., Innocence and Experience: Essays and Conversations on Children's Literature ()
  • ... there's a queerness on books. They've not tongues, but they can speak to every man that reads them, and they'll talk to him of things the writer never meant, things no man knows of but he.

  • ... I ought to have put this in the preface, but I never read prefaces, and it is not much good writing things just for people to skip. I wonder other authors have never thought of this.

  • The greatest pleasures of reading consist in re-reading.

  • ... if she didn't soon have a book in her hands, if she couldn't soon read a book, she'd die.

  • I can't exist without books.

  • ... reading is a private act, private even from the person who wrote the book. Once the novel is out there, the author is beside the point. The reader and the book have their own relationship now, and should be left alone to work things out for themselves.

    • Ann Patchett,
    • "My Life in Sales," This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage ()
  • Not since Harriet the Spy have I been without a book in my hands.

  • Readers soon tire of prefaces, and skip them, and so the labor of writing them is lost.

  • ... the number of reviews of books by men is greater than the number of reviews of books by women; the number of male reviewers is greater than the number of female reviewers. Men, in other words, are still the arbiters of taste, the cultural gatekeepers, and the recipients of what little attention still gets paid to books.

  • To be involved with books is to live at the heart of light.

  • She read books quickly and compulsively, paperback after paperback, as if she might drift away without the anchor of the printed page.

  • Have you got De Tocqueville's Journey to America? Somebody borrowed mine and never gave it back. Why is it that people who wouldn't dream of stealing anything else think it's perfectly all right to steal books?

  • There are times in one's life when a good book — the right book — feels like a voice speaking in the darkness, or a hand reaching out from the past; providing solace when all else seems lost.

  • A book — a well-composed book — is a magic carpet on which we are wafted to a world that we cannot enter in any other way.

  • The perfect hostess will see to it that the works of male and female authors be properly separated on her bookshelves. Their proximity, unless they happen to be married, should not be tolerated.

  • ... my home is where my books are ...

  • So much is it my habit and my pleasure to read, that when I enter a room, the first thing for which my eye instinctively looks is a book. I don't like to sleep in a room where there are no books.

  • I think you're never the same person when you close a book as when you open one; it changes your life very subtly.

  • Abominations, that's what they are; afterwords, introductions, all the dribble around the story.

  • Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books.

    • Mary Ann Shaffer,
    • in Mary Shaffer and Annie Barrows, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society ()
  • I'm old-fashioned and think that reading books is the most glorious pastime that humankind has yet devised.

  • Think of this — that the writer wrote alone, and the reader read alone, and they were alone with each other.

  • It's like if a young woman writes it, then it's chick lit. We don't care if she's slaying vampires or working as a nanny or living in Philadelphia. It's chick lit, so who cares? You know what we call what men write? Books.

    • Jennifer Weiner,
    • in Sara Vilkomerson, "Chick Lit to Chick Flicks: Women Flock to Weiner's World," Observer ()
  • When you read a good book, you get to know yourself.

  • ... you miss so much of a good book if you read it only once, because while the book stays the same, you change over time. Did you ever say to yourself, 'I've heard that Beethoven once. I don't have to listen to that again.' Or, 'I've already seen that Cézanne. I don't need to go back to the museum.' Writing is art.

  • Books we must have though we lack bread.

  • I sincerely hope that people (and by people, I'm including you) buy the book and like it. (By the way, if you're reading this in a bookstore or reading a friend's copy, the book is much funnier when you own your own copy — don't ask me why that is, it just is.)

  • Contained in that space was every life ever lived and every place ever visited. Time and space collapsed into tall wooden shelves. No journey was impossible.

  • Stories are compasses and architecture; we navigate by them, we build our sanctuaries and our prisons out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of a world that spreads in all directions like arctic tundra or sea ice.

  • If you love books enough, books will love you back.

  • Never can a room look comfortable without books ... Books ought to be scattered all over the house, even in the passages, in the bedroom, les livres du chevet, everywhere.

  • In books I have traveled, not only to other worlds, but into my own. I learned who I was and who I wanted to be, what I might aspire to, and what I might dare to dream about my world and myself.

  • You know, I don't think a lot about why one book connects with its readers and another doesn't. Probably because I don't want to start thinking, 'Am I popular?' I spent way too much time thinking about that in high school.

    • Ursula K. Le Guin,
    • in Laura Miller, "Amazon Has Too Much Control Over What Books Get Published," Salon ()
  • ... by tragic historical coincidence a period of abysmal under-educating in literacy has coincided with this unexpected explosion of global self-publishing. Thus people who don't know their apostrophe from their elbow are positively invited to disseminate their writings to anyone on the planet stupid enough to double-click and scroll.

  • Anyone who has time to clean isn't reading enough.

  • Here’s to books, the cheapest vacation you can buy.

  • Books keep stupidity at bay. And vain hopes. And vain men. They undress you with love, strength and knowledge. It’s love from within.

  • The world’s rulers should be forced to take a reader’s license. Only when they have read five thousand — no, make that ten thousand — books will they be anywhere near qualified to understand humans and how they behave.

  • Books sent my clamorous spirit into another world. They have been accumulating and passing through my hands ever since.